Sunday, May 22, 2022

The Bulls Season Is Basically Over, Here’s What Needs To Happen Next


In case you were unaware, the Bulls lost both games at home against the Milwaukee Bucks over the weekend. They didn’t just lose those games, they got blown out. It was tough to watch as a Bulls fan and it brought everyone right back to the way the Bulls ended the season. Poor offense, poor defense, and overall poor effort. It looked like this would be a tough series after game 2 but here we are 4 games in and it’s looking like a cakewalk for the Bucks. While there is still at least one game left I think everyone can agree the Bulls won’t be making it out of round 1. With that in mind, it’s time to jump into offseason mode. This team has a good amount of talent on it and can compete. But it’s going to take a few moves to make them title contenders. 

Everyone needs to take a trip down memory lane and remember the Bulls were 31-41 last year. They increased their win total by 15 games and that was with all of the injuries. This roster has some great talent on it. This is far from a finished product. But there’s one area of this team that has to change if the Bulls are going to have success next year.

The abysmal bench

During the regular season, the Bulls bench was 29th in the league in points per game. They averaged 26.7 PPG throughout 82 games. On top of that, they were also 29th in the league in rebounding at 13.4 rebounds per game. This bench simply couldn’t keep the Bulls in a game when they were on the court. That is the biggest issue that needs to be fixed this offseason. While there has been a multitude of issues in the playoffs the bench has been #1 for the Bulls.

This bench did little when given the opportunity over four games in the playoffs. Poor shooting across the board and it showed in these last two games. It’s time to blow up the Bulls bench and get some better offense on it. There are only two players in my mind that should remain on the team’s bench and everyone else can go. Guards Alex Caruso and Ayo Dosunmu need to remain on the Bulls bench for the foreseeable future. It’s time to focus on the players who can make this team better offensively and actually help when on the court. The players on the bench now can’t show up when needed and that needs to be addressed right away.

Hear out trade offers for Vucevic

I’m going to start this by saying I don’t think center Nikola Vucevic needs to be traded from this team during the offseason. He showed in this playoff series that he can still step up offensively and be a key piece to this team. However, the Bull’s front office needs to listen to potential offers for Vucevic. Figure out what could be out there and if it’s worth it then make the move. Trading Vucevic just because he has moments of being inconsistent doesn’t make sense. He is the best player in this series by far. He’s also one of the healthiest players on the team.

One of the best things about Vucevic is that he will be on the court when you need him. That can’t be said about a lot of the Bulls roster. This is why the front office should listen to potential trade offers but only make the move if it’s right. Don’t just move on from Vucevic without knowing what the next step would be. There aren’t a whole lot of Nikola Vucevics out there that you can add to your starting lineup. I can understand the frustration but dumping Vucevic isn’t the best move unless you are getting another starting-caliber center in return. Whether something meaningful comes from that or not the next move is to keep your young All-Star on the team.

Extend Zach LaVine

The next thing that needs to happen has become a hot take over this playoff series. The Bulls need to sign guard Zach LaVine to a supermax contract extension. There are a lot of people out there who are using LaVine’s playoff performance as a reason to move on from Zach and that’s absolute madness. LaVine has openly let everyone know he’s playing with a knee injury. After playing a good portion of the season with that knee injury he still averaged 24.4 PPG. You aren’t going to find anyone with LaVine’s abilities in the open market and signing him to a long-term deal is the right move. Apparently, that’s a controversial thing to say right now but if someone knows of a better option out there please let the front office know because there isn’t one that exists.

The injuries have hurt LaVine’s game and there’s no denying that. He hasn’t been the player we are used to seeing but he is still giving it 100% on the court. In-game four he had 13 assists which again shows just how talented LaVine is. The Bulls need to extend this man and continue to build around him. The core seems right at this point with DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball, and LaVine. The key moving forward is this team getting healthy.

Is it time for a new strength and conditioning coach?

This is one of those things that you don’t really know until the change happens. I’m not blaming head strength and conditioning coach Geoffrey Puls for the team’s injuries. Lonzo Ball has been injury-prone during his career. Patrick Williams’s injury was a random injury that wasn’t due to conditioning. But overall this team seemed to have a lot of injury issues this season. Is it maybe time to change up who is in charge of strength and conditioning? This is something I can’t answer but if the focus is on this team getting healthy then maybe it’s time for a change or adding someone else. 

The Bull’s success next season will depend not only on who they add to the team but the team’s overall health. Who knows how this season would have gone without all of the injuries. This series could have even been different if the team got Lonzo Ball back. But we won’t ever know that. If this team can’t get healthy and remain healthy then they will never see success. This offseason needs to be used for every Bulls starter to get healthy. Even if that means not playing any basketball for months. Take this time to get healthy and get in the right shape. Ensure that you can make it through a full season next year. This team isn’t far off from competing for a championship and if they can stay healthy who knows where they can go.

Maybe next year. That’s about all we have left to hang on to. It’s highly unlikely the Bulls will find a way to win on Wednesday. Maybe I’m putting a fork in them too soon. Regardless of if they win Wednesday, they won’t be finding a way out of round 1 and all of this remains the same. If the Bulls want to find success next season they need to follow a roadmap similar to what was laid out above. It was an exciting season and the Bulls made it further than many believed at the beginning of the year. Next season this team can compete and that should be enough to excite Bulls Nation. 

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